Let me let you in on a little secret: if you are a beginner public speaker, you are going to be nervous and you will feel uncomfortable. And that is okay! Everybody is nervous when it comes to public speaking.
For more than 30 years I have trained Presidents and Prime Ministers of countries, Nobel Peace Prize winners, US Senators, members of the Parliament, you name it- and everybody gets nervous before they speak.
So do not worry about it. The courses that I offer can help you get to the point that even if you do not feel like you are completely relaxed, you will know how to fool your audience into thinking that you are.
Much of what makes us worry before speaking is the fear that people are going to laugh at you or they are going to see right through your facade and identify your fear because you are a beginner. That is a completely rational thought. But if you know in advance how to look comfortable and come across as confident and you know that you are fooling your audience, it actually becomes difficult to be nervous when you are speaking.
Never Worry About Remembering Again
The ums and ahs come out because you’re trying to remember what you need to say and speaking at the same time. I’m going to make life easy for you. Here is a tip that I am giving to you and I do not want you to give it to anybody else: I want you to cheat. I have used this technique multiple times and have never been caught because there is nothing unethical about it.
What I am talking about is that when you are giving a presentation or a briefing to a group of people or even just a single person where you’re just talking to someone, you can use a cheat sheet, which is just a single sheet of paper. I use a single sheet of paper on which I have three or four words that will remind me of what I need to speak about. I use a large font along with bold lettering so I do not have to pick the paper up and neither do I have to flip the pages since it is just one paper. In fact, I do not even have to bend over to read or use my glasses and fiddle with them in order to get a clear view of what is written on the paper. If I am standing up, I can place it on a lectern and if I am sitting down I can place it on a table or in my lap.
This simply takes all the pressure off and the more relaxed you are, the more you talk to people like you are having a conversation and the less you are thinking about remembering parts of your speech. When you are not trying to remember what you can recall and what you have forgotten, you are in the most relaxed state and in the moment. Subsequently, the ums and ahs melt away.
Your Body Language Partner: The Friendly Spotter
You need a spotter! You may have seen this in the gym that someone is struggling to bench press and there will be a friend staying over them to help them in case the weight falls down on them and they end up choking. You need the same thing when it comes your body language in the workplace.
Create a strategic alliance with someone- it could be someone who was hired the same day as you, someone you are just friendly with, even your boss, or may be an underlink. It should be someone you trust to tell you like it is. You don’t want to stand up and give a presentation in front of a bunch of new clients while you have spinach stuck in your teeth you would want someone to tell you. You would want someone to tell you if your shirt was untucked or if your jacket was flapping. I have had an experience where I was giving a keynote and the whole time the wireless mic that was attached to my body was making it seem as if I had a tail as it was sticking out from underneath my jacket! Thankfully, I had a colleague there who pointed it out to me and advised me to do something about it.
So before you set out to any important event where you are going to be speaking or even if it is just a formal black tie event that you have to attend, you will want to have someone who can give you a once over and let you know if anything is misplaced or unruly in your attire or appearance. So my advice for you is to find a buddy, whether it is a friend or a family member, who can really scrutinize you before you leave for that important event or meeting.